Saturday, 3 September 2011

US Open Day 6 - Serena beats Vika

Serena Williams beat Victoria Azarenka, 6-1 7-6 in a match which produced some of the best women's tennis of the tournament. The first set was particularly underwhelming as a nervous Azarenka was totally overrawed by Serena who served and returned impeccably. The big difference between the two was the serves; Azarenka missed a number of 1st serves and looked very vulnerable on the 2nd serve, winning just 29% of the points. She was totally outhit, outpowered and outplayed. The most exciting part of the set was when the over talkative and frustrating Virginia Wade, trying to describe Serena as being stingy in giving up games, called her mingy!

The start of the second set was crucial for Vika and she held a tough first service game to stay in the match. She continued to grow in confidence and put more 1st serves in play to keep one step ahead of Serena. Vika was also hitting the ball much cleaner and was contesting Serena from the back of the court. However Serena remained in control and produced the shot of the match to go 3-3 with a sensational crosscourt forehand winner.

Serena then went onto break the Azarenka serve as she strolled to the victory... but Vika was not ready to lie down yet. Serena had 3 match points on the Azarenka serve at 5-3 but Vika showed fantastic fighting spirit to save all three in a number of superb baseline tussles. She then produce some of her best tennis to break Serena back and force the second set into a tiebreak.

The tiebreak was a sensational battle between two in-form players. Both players produced some smashing winners with Azarenka impressing the most; at 2-2 she hit a sensational on-the-run forehand winner and then showed some real initiative at 4-4 by coming into the net and closing the point out with a forehand volley. But in the end, Serena was not to be denied as she kept amazing depth and control with her shots to force the win through. Azarenka went wide on match point but I was pleased to see her really go for it and not sit back. It was probably the best set of tennis I had seen from the women this year as Azarenka went toe-to-toe with Serena at the end and actually rattled her a little bit. The stats were impressive in the second set with a total of 42 winners (Serena 26/Vika 16) to 31 unforced errors (Serena 16/Vika 15).

Serena was just too strong for Azarenka

I was very impressed with Azarenka in the 2nd set and had she avoided Serena, this could easily have been the final. After looking lost in the first set, she tightened her game in the 2nd set and gave it a really good go. This year Azarenka has been much more consistent in her results. The biggest improvement she has made in her game is in her mentality; she is so much more focused on court and does not beat herself up after every little error. Her chances of winning at a Grand Slam appear much more positive than the likes of Wozniacki and Zvonareva because she has that attacking edge. Her serve is still an area that can let her down at times but if she can continue to work hard during the off-season, she should start contending Grand Slam semi finals and finals on a regular basis.

Azarenka battled extremely well in the second set

Serena was immense last night hitting 39 winners to 24 unforced errors and I cannot see her being threatened during the remainder of this tournament more than in this match by Azarenka. She seemed to be grateful in her post match interview for the test and was very complimentary of Azarenka's second set performance. Serena Williams will now play Ana Ivanovic in the 4th round, who beat the American wildcard Sloane Stephens, 6-3 6-4.

Ivanovic has the tough ask of playing Serena in the fourth round

In other results, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova produced a mini-upset to beat Jelena Jankovic, 6-4 6-4 . Jankovic started the encounter in much the better form striking the ball with convinction and stepping in the court to hit some sweet backhand winners. She had the first break points at 3-2 in the first set; however she failed to convert them as Pav saved five break points in a game where she also served three double faults. JJ failed to take the initiative and struggled to recover from the wasted opportunities. She then played a poor game at 4-4 with a number of mis-timed backhands allowing Pav the chance to serve out the first set 6-4.

Jankovic was the better player in the first set but Pav won the key points

The second set was a tight affair, but JJ lacked the belief in her shots to push the match into the third set. Pav was hitting the ball very cleanly and was making less errors from the back of the court. However her serve still remains a question mark; she tightened at the end and was barely getting the serves in but JJ had gone mentally at this point and could not get her returns into the court. Pav will now play Francesca Schiavone in the 4th round, who she also met at this stage of the US Open last year. Schiavone saved a match point in a scrappy performance, 5-7 7-6 6-3. Scheepers should have won this match but lacked the mental toughness to finish off the Italian.

Schiavone was very lucky to reach the 4th round because she was well below her best in this match

No comments:

Post a Comment